Vincent – The Moment I Met You

If you don’t at least sort of like this song after a minute or so, basically you’re wrong.

Tim: The starting a cappella chorus either gets the song off to a good start or a bad start, depending on what you like.

Tom: I’d call that a very good start. It’s confident, and it sounds great.

Tim: On the other hand, the music making its way in to back up the first verse should persuade any detractors, and then the energy in the choruses will, I think, sort out any difficulties.

Tom: Somehow that manages to be both energetic and understated at the same time. I felt like I wanted to clap along.

Tim: It’s good, isn’t it? If you don’t at least sort of like this song after a minute or so, basically you’re wrong.

Tom: It’s rare for me to agree with such a bold statement from you, but agree with you I do. That chorus is just beautiful.

Tim: And maybe it’s the general uptemponess of it, but it really doesn’t feel like it’s three and a half minutes long – the first time I heard it I thought why isn’t it longer?

Tom: I don’t think I ever expected to hear that from you.

Tim: No – me neither. I will go back to form now, though, and say that the stupidly long fade out at the end sucks.

Tom: You don’t hear fade outs much these days, do you? It does seem a bit retro. Let’s hope for a remix.

Daníel Óliver – Superficial

An uncomfortable reminder of INJU5TICE.

Tom: That sounds like…

Tim: A fairly generic Taio Cruz style track? Well, yes.

Tom: Exactly. Even down to the ‘ehh-ehh’s, which are an uncomfortable reminder of INJU5TICE. (No, Ian Levine, we haven’t forgotten yet.)

Tim: But are the verses different enough to make the song stand out on its own? Well, still not really, though probably a judgment call. Is there anything to note about this song at all? Actually, I think so – the BWO sounding bits in the choruses I really like, and the extra variation they bring to the song makes it different enough from most other stuff. It’s not quite so generic, and if I’m honest I actually quite like some Taio Cruz stuff.

Tom: Even Taio Cruz doesn’t sound like Taio Cruz now. He’s moved on. The rest of the world should probably do the same.

Tim: This is good and different enough that I can give this a thumbs up, I think.

Tom: I’m not sure that I can even remember what it sounds like, even straight after listening.

Tim: Actually, you might have a point there. I do remember enjoying it while it was playing, though. And I remember the swearing towards the end, which there was really no need for.

Taio Cruz – Telling The World

I think this might count as Oscar bait.

Tom: I think this might count as Oscar bait.

Tom: Taio Cruz clearly doesn’t mind playing second fiddle to an animated parrot. I suspect that might be because he’s making an enormous amount of money from this. Cue lots of footage from the movie, and an incredibly generic music video designed to appeal to everyone over the age of zero.

Tim: AND, he’s not wearing his usual trademark dickhead sunglasses, which is an interesting change.

Tom: As for the song: well, it’s no “Can You Feel The Love Tonight”. It’s certainly not a “Somewhere Out There”. It’s not even a “You’ll Be In My Heart”. But it’s not bad – and even if it wasn’t attached to the video, I suspect it’d still do pretty well. It is, in a word, rather lovely.

Tim: It is quite nice, isn’t it. Nothing special. But nice.

Tom: There is one unfortunate bit in the video where there are two mirrored versions of himself staring back at each other, looking for all the world like they’re about to kiss. Don’t use that effect in love song videos, directors.

Dana International – Ding Dong

This is Dana bloody International.

Tom: I know we said we weren’t going to review actual Eurovision songs before the event, Tim, but I’d like to plead a special exception here. Because this is Dana bloody International, legendary 1998 Israeli Eurovision entrant.

Not only is she back – if you can count being a judge on the Israeli version of Pop Idol as ‘going away’ – but the single’s being released over here in the UK. And she wrote it herself. And it’s pretty damn good.

Tim: It really is pretty damn good, isn’t it?

Tom: A bit of acoustic instrumentation in there, some serious orchestra hits, and a glorious textbook Eurovision key change. What more do you want?

Tim: Not much really. It’s not quite up to Diva standards, but that key change did make my hands go right up in the air.

Avicii – Penguin

This sort of stuff has been gone for too long. (With bonus classical diversion!)

Tim: I am glad that dance season is fast approaching, because this sort of stuff has been gone for too long.

Tim: This bloke ditched the ‘Avicii’ name briefly when he put out Bromance last year, but right now Tim Berg’s back as he was.

Tom: Speaking of which: do you have any idea how popular that track became? 38 million views for the official video, and I still hear it being played. Absolutely astounding track.

Tim: Well, now he’s dance-ing up a vaguely well known classical tune, the sort that gets requested daily on the Classic FM Drivetime show.

Tom: Now I do love tracks like this, if only because of my younger years when I spent far too long playing Dance Dance Revolution. I still know the step-rhythms for parts of “V (for EXTREME)” and the gorgeous “Kakumei” off by heart.

But if you really want to go back into history: then you have to start in the 1970s, with Walter Murphy’s “A Fifth of Beethoven” – which is, bizarrely, improved by the addition of Kanye West.

Tim: Why ‘Penguin’? Not a clue, but it does make for a nice picture.

Tom: Now that I can explain: the original piece is the modern classical “Perpetuum Mobile” by Penguin Cafe Orchestra, who also made the lovely “Music for a Found Harmonium” – which got turned into the execrable “Paddy’s Revenge” a few years back.

Tim: Ah – I knew the title of the track, just not the orchestra. And is it particularly execrable? I thought it was alright.

Anyway, I don’t really care what it’s called, because the tune is great. Good source material, excellent treatment of it, properly BANGING.

Tom: I was about to disagree with you, and then the track finally kicked in – at 2:20 – and I completely agree with you. After the beat drops, then yes; I like it. Like Bromance, though, I feel it does need a bit more.

Tim: Though having said I don’t care about the name, I am now tempted to mess around with it in GarageBand and stick some of this on top.

Tom: Get out.

Tim: I see. You probably wouldn’t have a problem with this, though.

Tom: …I’ll allow it.

Tim: You’re insane.

Beastie Boys – Make Some Noise

Old-school.

Tom: The Beastie Boys are so old-school that Tony Hawks parodied them. 23 years ago.

Tom: And this sounds like seriously old-school Beastie Boys. Decent sample, tight production, and the shouting, distorted multiple-guys-rapping style that no-one’s ever done quite as well since. Technically, it’s bloody excellent.

Which makes it a bit of a shame that I don’t actually like it.

Tim: Really? I think it’s good – lot of energy to bounce along to in your chair, which is always nice.

Tom: That sample grates after a while; even if some of the distortion’s thanks to YouTube compression it’s still a bit too much for me; and when it comes down to it my brain just thinks “it’s very nice, but I do wish they’d shout a bit less”.

Perhaps I’m getting old; perhaps I’m more used to modern production; but despite this being a fantastic record I just don’t want to listen to it. I think that’s my own fault, though.

Tim: It’s not something I’d put on my usual playlist, I suppose, but I’ve certainly got no aversion to it.

Owl City feat. Shawn Chrystopher – Alligator Sky

Oh. You’ve got yourself a rapper. Well, that’s just precious.

Tom: Ah, Owl City. Purveyor of cheap and tacky synthpop to teenagers across America. What do you have for us this time?

Tom: Oh. You’ve got yourself a rapper. Well, that’s just precious.

Still the exact same nonsense lyrics and happy-go-lucky electronic music. I suppose there’s nothing wrong with that, but once you’ve figured out the formula – and seen it expertly deconstructed – you kind of hope for more.

Tim: Thing is, I like Owl City. He’s a bit like the Scouting For Girls of the electro world – the songs all blend into each other, and as long as there’s one fairly decent one in there somewhere it all seems all right. This one’s alright – even the rapping is fairly low-key, so it doesn’t really disturb anything.

Tom: There are some artists that keep producing the same kind of thing, and that’s OK because it’s just so good; and there are artists who keep reinventing themselves, and that’s great too. And then there’s Owl City.

Still, at least there’s a key change.

Barbarellas – Night Mode

Tom: No, really, they’ve got a second single. I didn’t think it’d happen either.

Tom: It’s, um, well it’s pretty forgettable. And that autotune is really grating by a couple of minutes in: the song just never goes anywhere.

Tim: Except for in one ear and out of the other.

Tom: “If you want to be cool / take it back to school”? Bloody hell.

Tim: Well, that is at least better than the next bit, which cleverly rhymes ‘sexy’ with, um, ‘sexy’.

Tom: There is one good thing, though: the one with dark hair doesn’t look like Noel Fielding to me any more. But that’s only because I’ve now watched Blake’s Junction 7, and I now think she looks a bit like Mackenzie Crook in drag.

Tim: And there was me thinking you were going to apologise for before.

Tom: I realise that’s cruel, and I’m sorry. I’m well aware I’m not exactly the least androgynous person in the world. It shouldn’t have anything to do with the review, but I just can’t unsee it. It’s the sharply cut hair and worryingly slim body, I think. Yes. Sorry.

T-Pain feat. Chris Brown – Best Love Song

They just trade ‘ehh’ sounds back at each other for eight bars.

Tom: T-Pain: master of autotune whose best work is probably with the Lonely Island singing I’m On A Boat; and Chris Brown, noted domestic abuser?

Brace yourself, Tim. This isn’t going to be fun.

Tom: I don’t know what’s more laughable about this.

Tim: Ooh, well let’s list things and see what comes out on top.

Tom: The parts where they just trade ‘ehh’ sounds back at each other for eight bars?

Tim: The fact that it starts with two rounds of ‘nappyboy’?

Tom: The ‘cowabunga’?

Tim: The autotune that’s so thick it’s possible they’re just saying stuff monotonously and letting the computer do all the work?

Tom: The key change, after which they trade ‘ehh’ sounds again before a bizarre guitar breakdown and drum solo finishes the whole thing off?

Tim: Oh, good lord – yeah, actually, that wins.

Tom: I just… I’m not sure I have words for this one.

Tim: In that case I propose just one: tripe. Although part of me is tempted to suggest a variant of Poe’s Law.

Natalia Kills – Mirrors

So what if she’s not the first person to do this sort of thing?

Tom: So here’s the first question, Tim: how many artists is she ripping o– er, “drawing inspiration from”?

Tom: I can hear the Eurythmics in there, plus Lady Gaga – obviously. Anyone else I’ve missed?

Tim: Hmm, I don’t know – there’s ‘ripping off’, but there’s also just ‘doing the same style as’ – as far as I’m concerned the music’s good, and so what if she’s not the first person to do this sort of thing?

Tom: It’s a pity that’s going to be the first thing anyone thinks when they hear this song, because it’s actually really quite good. It kept me listening throughout, and the production is note-perfect, as you’d expect.

Tim: Exactly – it could quite easily be a Lady Gaga track, and that should really be more of a compliment than a disparagement.

Tom: Bit of a disappointing bridge exit, but I can live with that because the guitar that comes in on that final chorus is just glorious.

A lot of people seem to be assuming that the lyric is “the mirror’s gonna fall tonight”, and it’s not – it’s “the mirror’s gonna fog tonight”. This is one of those rare pop songs that isn’t about love or romance: it’s entirely about how good the sex is going to be.

Tim: Also of note is the interesting approach to product placement in the video – shall we put effort into this, and think about how we can work someone wearing a pair of Monster Beats by Dre™ Studio White headphones into the video, or shall we just chuck them on a floor somewhere, cut to them once or twice and hope that’ll do?